tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 14, 2013 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
on our broadcast here tonight, the nightmare at sea. high drama and now a painfully slow ride to shore for thousands trapped aboard the crippled carnival cruise ship. several setbacks in the rescue mission, passengers becoming increasingly desperate. tonight our first look at what it's like inside. charged with murder. the shocking news we woke up to this morning. one of the most inspiring stars of the olympic games, the "blade runner," oscar pistorius accused of killing his girl friend. what really happened inside his heavily fortified home. the gift of sight. a big medical breakthrough tonight. the amazing way doctors are restoring vision to the blind. and a big change in the air. two big names announce they're merging to form the world's biggest airline.
less competition, fewer choices. will it mean higher ticket prices for everyone who flies? "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. tonight the carnival cruise line vessel "triumph" with 4,200 souls on board is slowly making its way into port in mobile, alabama. and for those poor souls on board, conditions are miserable. they have dealt with sewage, food shortages and no circulating air. people are hungry and dirty and even when the vessel reaches the dock, it won't be over. it will take hours to disembark. and the process they are hoping passengers take easily. the company will take all it has to keep it orderly. here's what else happened today. when the ship got within range of shore, the pictures and the stories started appearing on the web. social media will now tell this story with scenes like this.
sleeping on deck, the bivouack area on the top deck. the struggle to charge cell phones in the bowels of the ship. it will be tougher now for carnival cruise to tell their story with these nightmare scenes appearing everywhere. we begin in mobile tonight with nbc's janet shamlian. janet, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. late this afternoon, the arrival time of the ship was revised yet again. now not until 10:30 or 11:00 eastern at the earliest. and carnival says after that, it's going to take some four to five hours to get people off the ship. so conceivably, this could be close to an all-nighter for thousands of people who are already exhausted. the crippled cruise ship "triumph" limped towards mobile slower and later than expected, dragged along by four tug boats. hours into the operation, a tow rope from one of the four tugs snapped. another exhaustive setback for passengers. for their waiting families, more frustration.
>> it's not a good scenario, but tell us the damn truth for what you know. we haven't heard anything truthful yet, to my knowledge. >> reporter: as the ship crept closer to port, passengers' desperation became visible. signs made from bed sheets read "s.o.s." and "help us. " on board, donna gutzman told us, there is much confusion. >> very little has been right on time, or on point. so we're having a hard time. >> reporter: gutzman took these photos showing the improvised tent city earlier this week, where passengers slept on the sun deck after the power went out. soaked hallways and the plastic bags used in place of toilets. >> there's sewer on the floors. there's -- peeing and pooping in buckets and putting the bags outside our door. >> reporter: other photos show passengers in hallways on lower decks and efforts to keep cell phones juiced on limited power. gutzman says despite it all, passengers are keeping cool heads, no fights, people working together.
>> this is going to be a long day. this is not a process that's going to happen fast. there is no way we can speed up the process sooner. >> reporter: customs officials boarded the troubled ship to try to get the more than 4,000 passengers and crew processed to before they arrive at port to expedite their departure. carnival has buses to take them to new orleans. as many as 1,500 are reserved. friday, 20 charter flights will take everyone back to houston. joe crouch and his friend didn't want to wait. they drove eight hours from texas to pick up their wives. >> i figure they've waited in enough lines already and been through enough, it would be a whole lot easier just to jump in the truck and drive eight hours back home. >> they say it's close to the harbor. >> reporter: fran thompson waits too. he drove here from kentucky on valentine's day to pick up his wife. he gave her the trip as a gift. >> this was my wife's first cruise. and i guarantee it will be her last. >> reporter: on board, there is only one working elevator, so passengers will have to carry
off their own luggage. and there's a plan to get the elderly, children and people with special needs off first. there was a woman who had a stroke today on board. the coast guard was able to take her off. but for everyone else, this is going to be a long night and conceivably into the morning before the last person is off. brian? >> hey, janet, while we now know they have rail service to that port, if i remember correctly, this port was built -- alabama was going to try to make a go of it as a destination port ocean cruising. it hasn't been used like this for a long time, so aren't they trying to retrofit everything to take all this many people off? >> reporter: in just a matter of hours. it hasn't been used for a year, and this will be the biggest ship ever to dock here. so they've got challenges. and right now they are still inside, trying to get everything ready. they say that's as big a job as docking the ship here tonight. >> janet shamlian, mobile, has been on the story since the beginning. janet, thanks. now to another big story still developing tonight. a lot of people woke up to this morning the shocking news from south africa.
one of the heroes of the olympic games in london. oscar pistorius, the blade runner, who inspired so many people, charged with murder tonight after the death of his girlfriend. nbc's rehema ellis is here with us in the studio with the latest on this. rehema, good evening. >> good evening, brian. you cannot overstate how significant oscar pistorius is to people who will face obstacles and struggle to overcome them. he's a national hero in south africa. and that's why today's news is so devastating to so many. >> and there's the start, in a landbreaking moment. >> oscar pistorius marked a stunning achievement at the 2012 london olympics. >> oscar pistorius sets on his way in the first round of the 400 meters. >> today, the world was stunned again when the superstar athlete was arrested and charged with murder after his girlfriend was found shot at his upscale south african home. >> at this stage, we can confirm that a young woman did die on the scene of gunshot wounds.
>> police say there are no other suspects. neighbors in the quiet gated community reported hearing noise coming from the home earlier in the evening. >> he's very well. obviously emotional, but he's fine, guys. >> the victim was reeva steenkamp, a law school graduate, and a famous south african model. hours before the shooting, she tweeted her excitement about valentine's day. >> she loved people. she loved everybody and it was her heart that went out. >> the applause still rains down on oscar pistorius. >> the story is a story inspired many. born with a congenital condition, his legs were amputated before his first birthday. he was fitted with prosthetics and started running on the beach right away as he told nbc's mary carillo. >> i remember saying something to my parents along the lines of my footprints are different. and they said no, they're just better. >> he was terrific. so soft-spoken. it was the thing i noticed about
him, even before i noticed that he could do so many things without legs. very modest, very self effacing. >> reporter: nbc's row hit cat radio is in pretoria. >> reporter: it's not unusual for wealthy people to live in homes like these, gated communities with high walls and electric fences. and oscar pistorius' neighborhood is one of the most secure in pretoria. >> still, pistorius is a gun owner. police report previous incidents of a domestic nature at the home. tonight, billboards once celebrating the revered athlete are being pulled down. police have not formally named pistorius as the suspect. under south african law, they may not do so until the accused appears in court. oscar pistorius is scheduled to go before a judge tomorrow. >> sad story. to wake up to today. we'll stay on it. rehema ellis with us tonight. thanks.
authorities in southern california have positively identified the body found in that burned-out cabin in big bear as the ex cop turned cop killer, christopher dorner. they i.d.ed him with dental records. dorner was killed in a stand offwith police on tuesday. that chain of events started when the owners of the mountain vista resort, karen and jim reynolds, went to get one of their cabins ready for vacationers who were arriving. they found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun and staring at dorner. dorner tied up the couple, took off in their car, but left behind a cell phone, which they then used to call 911. in washington tonight, republicans in the senate blocked a vote to move along the nomination of former republican senator chuck hagel as secretary of defense. this doesn't stop him. the nomination isn't dead. it is, however, a delaying tactic, as several senators press the white house for more information on the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi last september 11th. well, it may be appropriate
timing on this valentine's day. a major corporate marriage made official. american airlines and usairways are now one giant airline. the largest in all the world. it's a deal designed to pull american out of bankruptcy and make it better able to compete in the big leagues. but what does it mean for all us air travelers? our report tonight from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: since 1934, american airlines has been a corporate icon. helping to build new york's laguardia airport, hiring the first female airline pilot, the first electronic tickets. ♪ something special in the air >> reporter: but after years of struggle, it surrendered to bankruptcy protection in late 2011. today, a lifeline in the form of an $11 billion merger with usairways. >> we will once again be an industry leader, worthy of the name american airlines. america's flag carrier. >> reporter: if approved, the deal would make american the world's largest airline. but after so many mergers in
recent years, only four airlines, american, delta, united and southwest, would be left with 70% of the u.s. market. while airfares haven't risen much in recent years, experts warn, less competition could ultimately drive up prices. >> if you're looking out over the next three or four years of your vacation plans you'll average between 5 and 10% airfare increases year over year once you hit 2014. >> concerned about the overall number of flights available, the cost of those flights. >> more and more mergers, prices are worse, choices are less. doesn't add up. >> reporter: for now, both usairways and american will continue to fly independently. passengers will fly the airline on which they're booked. and until the merger is complete, the frequent flier programs will remain separate. ultimately, a combined frequent flyer program could include tens of millions of people with more destinations to choose from, but all competing for that upgrade or the free trip.
tom costello, nbc news, washington. there is news tonight from the world of science. and this could be a day that lasts in medical history. the fda has approved the first-ever artificial, in effect, bionic eye. a prosthesis fitted on a pair of glasses that can bring some sight to those with a specific form of vision loss. we get the story tonight from our chief science correspondent, robert bazell. >> reporter: it is a dream come true. restoring at least some sight to the blind. the artificial retina is a tiny camera mounted on glasses that sends electrical signals directly to the brain cells that perceive light. the fda approved it today to treat a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that strikes 100,000 americans a year, and can lead to total blindness. the artificial retina does not achieve perfect sight, but it does allow blind people to see enough images so they can navigate a room safely and perform other tasks.
>> that would be white. >> reporter: kathleen blake had been totally blind. and was one of the original test subjects. >> i was able to sort my clothes. >> reporter: that much of improvement made a big difference. >> i was able to actually point the moon out in the sky. >> reporter: for more than 20 years, dr. mark hyman and his team at the university of southern california have been working toward this goal. >> the key of this is not only the hardware, but the software. how do you take an image from a camera and convert it into this neural code, this morse code of the eye? and then stimulate the nerve cells in the retina? >> reporter: the scientists expect the new vision to improve as the amazing technology advances. >> correct. >> reporter: robert bazell, nbc news, new york. the vatican revealed today pope benedict fell and cut his head while on a trip to mexico last year. a vatican spokesman insists, the fall had no impact on his overall, larger decision to abdicate.
but it is the second time in three seven days we have learn of a preexisting health issue with the 85-year-old pope who on tuesday let it be known he has a pacemaker. he had just had a procedure performed to have the battery changed two months ago. still ahead, as we continue on this thursday night, a close encounter, the likes of which we here on earth have never seen before. it's now just hours away. and later on this valentine's day, what's the secret to a long and happy marriage? some surprising answers tonight from folks who know a thing or two about that. two about that. [ female announcer ] today, jason is here to volunteer to help those in need. when a twinge of back pain surprises him. morning starts in high spirits, but there's a growing pain in his lower back. as lines grow longer, his pain continues to linger. but after a long day of helping others, he gets some helpful advice. just two aleve have the strength to keep back pain away all day. today, jason chose aleve. just two pills for all day pain relief. try aleve d for strong, all day long sinus and headache relief.
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hollywood blockbusters like "deep impact." a massive space rock hurdling toward earth. >> for an astroid, this is a very close call. >> reporter: close, as in between the earth and many of its satellites. on friday, the astroid known as 2012 da14, a mass half the size of a football field will pass 17,200 miles above the earth. traveling about five miles per second. but slow down. nasa says there is absolutely no danger. >> it's not going to cause earthquakes, it's not going to cause any climate change. >> reporter: da14 was first discovered by amateur astronomers last february in spain. since then, nasa has been plotting its path and is certain there will be no impact. its closest approach expected to be near indonesia at 2:24 p.m. eastern on friday. images have already been captured on high-powered telescopes in australia. >> you won't be able to see it with the naked eye. with research and a decent
telescope, you have a shot but your best bet may be to do what a lot of people around here will be doing, monitoring the nasa feed online. as it gets closer, nasa's powerful gold stone deep space communications complex will be taking radar imagery, research that could help scientists avoid disaster in the future. back in 1908, a smaller meteor hit in a remote region of siberia, destroying the landscape for hundreds of miles. and scientists blame the dinosaur's demise on a massive astroid. >> the dinosaurs didn't have a space program. so they couldn't discover astroids and they couldn't do anything about it. >> reporter: so now nasa says they'll be watching and learning what they can from what is about to be a very close call. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, pasadena, california. so the experts say go ahead with those plans for the weekend. and we're going to take a break. we'll be back in a moment with one of the wealthiest men in the world who made an interesting big-name purchase today. dentures are very different to real teeth.
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otherworldly things. but there are some things i've never seen before. this ge jet engine can understand 5,000 data samples per second. which is good for business. because planes use less fuel, spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. suddenly, faraway places don't seem so...far away. ♪
a household name among american consumer products is about to get a new owner who is himself just about a household name these days. billionaire investor warren buffett announced today he's teaming up with a brazilian private equity firm to buy heinz, the pennsylvania-based brand name for $23 billion. buffett already owns dairy queen and a candy company and he's famous for his love of cheese burgers. so this purchase kind of made sense to a lot of buffett-watchers. senator frank lautenberg the senior senator from new jersey, announced today he will not run again. lautenberg is a five-term senator, the oldest serving senator and the last remaining world war ii veteran currently in the u.s. senate. the race for the seat will be closely watched. newark's mayor cory booker has already filed papers to run for his seat. the president was on the road today. in fact, he was practically on the floor with a bunch of preschoolers. lots of hugs and high-fives in a
pre-k classroom in decatur, georgia. a look you saunder the magnifyi glass. one of the 4-year-old's asked if he was their teacher. after that got cleared up, there was another reason for his trip. the official business pushing his early childhood education plan which he highlighted in the state of the union address. picture of the day from the world of sports comes from the australian women's golf open. interrupted by a marauding flash mob of kangaroos who suddenly streamed across the fairway. luckily, they left only their giant footprints behind, and play was resumed. we're back in a moment with what february 14th is supposed to be all about. before copd... i took my son fishing every year. we had a great spot, not easy to find, but worth it. but with copd making it hard to breathe, i thought those days might be over. so my doctor prescribed symbicort. it helps significantly improve my lung function starting within five minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms.
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the styles section, vows. two decades of love and all its trappings. "new york times" columnist, lois smith brady, has chronicled the "i dos" from the start. >> vows is much more about love than it is about marriage. >> reporter: just as some love stories start out a little rocky, so did the column. >> 20 years ago, a reporter going to a wedding was a very unusual thing. and so they thought that -- sometimes they thought i was going to try to say how drunk everybody got. >> reporter: suspicions waned and vows took off. brady saw mark and susan parent marry on a new jersey farm in 1992. college sweethearts, their wedding was less about frills and more about fun. >> he is still funny. entertains me. is a very good father. >> very tough to make the same person laugh for 20 years. >> reporter: they laugh about everything. even susan's wedding dress, which she keeps in their son's closet. >> it still fits. well, it's tight. but it fits. >> reporter: for mimi and sheldon tony, also married 20
years, it's the little things. >> he will put gas in my car, which i always think is so romantic. forget chocolate, i need gas in my car. >> reporter: it has been 20 years of love and longing. but also some loss. couples divorced, others passed on. people change. so did the column. the "times" was among the first major papers to feature same-sex marriages. jeff weinstine and john parolt together 32 years before they finally saw their vows in print. >> when i saw those pictures, i was so happy to see john and me together in public on a page like that. and we got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of e-mails. >> reporter: after 500 couples, lois smith brady, married 24 years herself, says she knows the secret to staying together. >> it's not a lot of work. it's pretty easy. and it's natural. there are people who fit together. and that's the person you have to go for. >> reporter: a little love advice for those still searching for their valentine.